The businesses within the Grocery division produce a range of staple food and drink products that families around the world enjoy and rely on every day. We monitor changing consumer needs to ensure we continue to offer exactly what people want, whilst also addressing wider concerns such as public health, ethical sourcing and the environmental impact of agriculture and industry.
Many of the ingredients in our grocery products are grown in developing countries, sometimes reaching us through lengthy supply chains. As responsible businesses we take provenance very seriously and seek to understand, manage and mitigate any issues associated with a particular commodity or country. We are committed to buying from suppliers who share our values.
We place great importance on being a responsible neighbour in the communities in which we operate. We have seen the enormous value of industry coalitions, such as the Ethical Tea Partnership and the International Cocoa Initiative, which help to address issues that affect a whole sector, and not just a single business.
Ensuring our own operations are managed sustainably is crucial too. We run our operations as efficiently as we can and we factor sustainability in when planning capital expenditure projects. This is simply good business practice: it makes sense for us to focus on conserving energy and water in our factories, and to reduce any unnecessary packaging or road miles.
Read some of the ways that ABF Grocery Group companies are making a difference to the environment and their local communities:
Keeping our people safe
We operate a large number of production facilities and place great emphasis on ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of our people. In 2013, Allied Milling and Baking became the ‘safest millers and bakers’ in the UK, following five years of effort to increase health and safety awareness through all layers of the business. They have reduced the number of injuries leading to time off work (known as Lost Time Injuries) from 81 in 2010 to 40 in 2013. The dramatic improvement in the safety record is something we are proud of but Allied Milling and Baking’s ambition is to create a ‘zero harm’ workplace where health and wellbeing as well as safety are a priority. In addition, ACH has invested more than £26,000 in improving working conditions, as well as the safety of plant equipment to keep people safe.
Bringing new talent into the food industry
Through the Food and Drink Federation, Associated British Foods’ businesses in the UK have supported the development of a dedicated Food Engineering degree programme at Sheffield Hallam University. This is the only dedicated engineering degree programme focused specifically on the needs of the food industry. Students on the degree programme can benefit from access to industry for work placements, including our businesses, as well as guest lectures from engineers currently working in the food industry, creating the perfect platform for a future career in food manufacturing. The programme has also been supported by the UK government through an investment of £6.9m to create a dedicated Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University. You can find out more about the degree programme here: http://www.shu.ac.uk/prospectus/course/1247/ and the Food & Drink Federation’s involvement here: http://www.fdf.org.uk/graduate.aspx
Addressing youth unemployment
AB World Foods, Allied Bakeries, The Silver Spoon Company and Westmill support Feeding Britain’s Future, an initiative devised by the Institute of Grocery Distribution to help young people acquire the skills they need to enter the workplace. Local unemployed people aged 16–24 years were invited into our facilities and given first-hand training on the skills and competencies required to successfully enter the workplace, supported by graduates in our businesses. During September 2013, our businesses ran training programmes across 11 sites in the UK. Our employees gave participants a better understanding of the work environment as well as the requirements and rewards of working in a fast-paced manufacturing environment. The industry initiative, which is supported by experts from the UK’s employment agency, Job Centre Plus, has reached over 15,000 unemployed young people nationwide.
Building Future Leaders
In 2013, our UK grocery businesses joined together to launch our first women-only leadership development programme that was designed to recognise the particular pressures on women within senior management roles. Sponsored by the Chief Executive of our UK Grocery division, the programme brought together 15 senior business managers working in the full spectrum of functions across the various different UK grocery businesses, including planning, supply chain, finance, operations, marketing and sales. Three-quarters of those who participated in the training programme stated that it had come at just the right point in time to help them develop their careers, and every attendee said that their line manager was supportive. The programme has continued to grow and is now in its third cycle of participants from the businesses.